Films to Watch: The Best of 2011

2011 has seen an incredible amount of high quality films and it is little wonder that the word ‘Oscar’ has been thrown around with as much affluence as money in the Transformers production office. Among this year’s highlights was Duncan Jones’ mind-boggling Source Code, the compelling King’s Speech and the breathtaking conclusion to the Harry Potter series. Although I am yet to see some of the year’s later releases, including David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, here are my favourite films of 2011.

5. Insidious
The found footage style that was established by The Blair Witch Project in the nineties has been renewed countless times by contemporary horrors such as Paranormal Activity franchise with its ‘CCTV aesthetic’. Instead Insidious emulates earlier classics such as Psycho and The Shining with its traditional film style and freak out horror. The film’s fantastical supernatural elements may deter some; Insidious is the most genuinely frightening horrors in a long time.

4. Water For Elephants
While the costumes, design and stunts perfectly capture the wondrous atmosphere the circus once offered, Christophe Waltz’s enigmatic performance provides a rare glimpse into its treacherous underbelly. Though he is usually criticised for his connection to those vampire films, Robert Pattinson’s performances in dramas such as Remember Me and Water for Elephants deserve much more acclaim. Both he and Reese Witherspoon provide brilliant performances in this beautifully emotional narrative.

3. The Inbetweeners Movie
In the summer came one of the year’s most anticipated releases; a film based on the hit E4 comedy series The Inbetweeners that saw the quartet holidaying in Malia. The film follows the same format that made the television series so appealing, and while that may have been the undoing of television movies in the past, through sheer awkwardness, gross out comedy and merciless banter provides The Inbetweeners with the fitting send off it deserves.

2. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Working from a brilliant script and performed by Britain’s finest actors it is little surprise that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a well acted film with each of the cast more terrific than the last. With the camera positioned like a tool for spying, watching from a distance as the characters share delicate national secrets, Tomas Alfredson’s star studded adaptation magnificently captures the suspicious nature of John Le Carré’s famous novel.
(Click for full review)

1. Drive
Nicolas Winding Refn’s immaculately crafted action thriller Drive reflects a sophisticated blend of characterisation and hardcore violence. Ryan Gosling, who also starred in one of the year’s highlights Crazy.Stupid.Love, brings tenderness to his role as a Hollywood stunt driver, whose reserved attitude masks a dark, underlying character. This unique piece of filmmaking is anchored by a remarkable soundtrack resulting in what is comfortably the best film of 2011.

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